The way children look at art

1st January 2019

This short blog is about a video clip from a BBC documentary made in 1972 by John Berger called, “Ways of Seeing”.

You can view the whole series on YouTube, but in this extract Berger talks to a group of children who are looking at a painting by Caravaggio. Berger’s reason for this is to point out how children’s experiences of art are often purer (some would say more naive) than adults, especially those educated in art appreciation.

Berger’s observation is important, as it is obvious what we gain from education, but what do we lose in the process? Kieran Egan has made the same point in The Educated Mind about learning to read and how reading ends up controlling, or moulding, the way we see and interpret the world.

It is a discomforting thought that the more we educate children the more we take from them and the more we end up telling them how to think.


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